“Code Names” have been around for hundreds of years, although the reasons they are used have varied. For example, militaries around the world have used code names, as do some governments and corporations . A series of posts Mary Jo Foley over at ZDNet has done regarding some of Microsoft’s code names got me intrigued with how they come up with the names that they use, and the meaning behind them. There are a variety of reasons behind code names in the computer industry with one of them being to help prevent confusion between a product in development, and a final product. Other times a code name is used to help keep the project a secret. According to Wikipedia, Microsoft’s codenames in particular are used frequently throughout the IT industry because of the significance behind the products.
Today we’ll talk about some of the most famous and not so famous Microsoft codenames, some of them pertaining to Windows.
Memphis was the codename for what came to be Windows 95’s successor, Windows 98. Ironically, the cancelled upgrade for Windows 95 was Nashville. It appears they moved from one Tennessee city to another.
Also interesting with Memphis is that it ended up being incorporated in an “easter egg” in Windows 98. When a user opened up the “date and time” window and went to the “time-zone” page, they could drag a line with their mouse (while holding down control) from Memphis, Egypt to Memphis Tennessee, and then from Memphis to Redmond, Washington and a window would appear displaying the credits for Windows 98.
While it seems as though every project Microsoft works on, particularly operating systems, has a code name, they don’t. Windows 2000 was the first major Windows release since Windows 2.0 that was left without a codename.
Anyone remember Whistler? It ended up being the codename for what ended up being none other than Windows XP. This is the type of code name that left me wondering how they came up with it. As I suspected, there’s actually a rhyme and reason for it. Windows X was code named Whistler because the design retreats for XP were held in Whistler, British Columbia. Makes sense now, doesn’t it?
The infamous Longhorn is what we now know as Windows Vista. Going back to their experience in Whistler, Longhorn was named after the Longhorn Bar in the “Whistler-Blackcomb resort.” Some of you may also recognize Blackcomb as it was the original code name for Windows 7. Back in January of 2006, Microsoft switched the code name for Windows 7 to Vienna.
Some people have suggested that Microsoft name their products sooner into the process of development which would then eliminate the codenames.
This is another one you may already be familiar with. At first it was thought that Fiji was going to be Vista Service Pack 1. However, now the buzz is that Fiji is actually a version of Windows that will be released between Vista and Windows 7.
Quattro, or Q as it’s known, is actually the code name for Windows Home Server. It was named Quattro because this was Microsoft’s 4th time attempting to build a home server. Fourth time is a charm in this situation as I’m sure many of you will be using Windows Home Server in the near future.
If you’re interested in learning more about some of Microsoft’s code names, I recommend checking out this Wikipedia page, or Mary Jo Foley’s on-going series where she writes about one Microsoft code name a day!